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Gendered Scenarios of Revolution

Making New Men and New Women in Nicaragua, 1975–2000

Rosario Montoya

Publication Year: 2012

In 1979, toward the end of the Cold War era, Nicaragua´s Sandinista movement emerged on the world stage claiming to represent a new form of socialism. Gendered Scenarios of Revolution is a historical ethnography of Sandinista state formation from the perspective of El Tule-a peasant village that was itself thrust onto a national and international stage as a "model" Sandinista community. This book follows the villagers´ story as they joined the Sandinista movement, performed revolution before a world audience, and grappled with the lessons of this experience in the neoliberal aftermath.

Employing an approach that combines political economy and cultural analysis, Montoya argues that the Sandinistas collapsed gender contradictions into class ones, and that as the Contra War exacerbated political and economic crises in the country, the Sandinistas increasingly ruled by mandate as vanguard party instead of creating the participatory democracy that they professed to work toward. In El Tule this meant that even though the Sandinistas created new roles and possibilities for women and men, over time they upheld pre-revolutionary patriarchal social structures. Yet in showing how the revolution created opportunities for Tuleños to assert their agency and advance their interests, even against the Sandinistas´ own interests, this book offers a reinterpretation of the revolution´s supposed failure.

Examining this community’s experience in the Sandinista and post-Sandinista periods offers perspective on both processes of revolutionary transformation and their legacies in the neoliberal era. Gendered Scenarios of Revolution will engage graduate and undergraduate students and scholars in anthropology, sociology, history, and women’s and gender studies, and appeal to anyone interested in modern revolution and its aftermath.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xvii

I first learned of El Tule in 1989 during an early research trip to Nicaragua. Speaking with a Spanish internationalist, I mentioned my interest in supporting the Sandinista Revolution by studying how the movement had enabled subordinate-class Nicaraguans to gain a revolutionary consciousness and join the Sandinista struggle for class and national liberation. ...

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pp. xix-xxi

This book has been too long in the making. If there is a silver lining to my delay in finishing the manuscript, it is surely that it has given me more reason to return to El Tule over the years. I have now enjoyed a continuous, twenty-year relationship with the people of this community, many of whom have become an intrinsic part of my life. If it were not for my interest ...

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Introduction: In Search of the “New Man”

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pp. 1-37

The village of El Tule awakened to an unusual excitement that May 15, 1993. Since the early morning, men, women, and children had been scurrying down the village’s single road to and from the schoolhouse that stood just off the road a quarter of a mile east of where I lived. In my hosts’ house, the commotion had gripped all but the two little ones who, oblivious ...

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1. State and Community Formation: El Tule to 1975

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pp. 39-64

In the late 1870s, Juana Garay, a wealthy landowner from the municipality of Belén, province of Rivas, parceled off a thousand manzanas from her estate of San Marcos and put them up for sale. Garay’s call attracted several interested buyers who were drawn to these lands by its lush forests, abundant fauna, and rich volcanic soils. Also ideal for prospective buyers ...

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2. In Search of Utopia: El Tule’s Scenario and the Sandinista New Man

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pp. 65-94

In 1975, a campesino organizer from Rivas working clandestinely with the Sandinista front arrived in El Tule’s south barrio accompanied by a guerrilla contingent posing as schoolteachers. The organizer had led the guerrillas to this barrio due to its remote location and long-standing opposition to the Somoza regime. The Sandinista cadres introduced themselves to ...

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3. Ambivalent Revolutionaries: Class, Nation, and Campesino Politics

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pp. 95-118

Following the 1979 Sandinista triumph, during the state-building phase of the revolution, the Sandinistas began implementing a project of economic transformation that in its essence reproduced elites’ historical infatuation with masculinist notions of modern, large-scale development. The Sandinistas proposed that, in this phase, the New Man would be constituted ...

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4. House, Street, Collective: Revolutionary Geographies and Gender Transformation

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pp. 119-150

In the early morning of March 8, 1993, Tuleños were preparing to go to Belén to a mobilization organized by the FSLN in celebration of International Women’s Day. As Luis and I headed toward the truck that was to transport us, we spotted Miguel sitting at the side of the road. “Aren’t you coming to Belén?” Luis asked his brother, who with a dismissive gesture, ...

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5. New Men, New Women, Sexuality, and the Domestic

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pp. 151-188

On July 10, 1992, Doña Juanita told me a story about sipping her coffee by the kitchen stove one morning in the late 1980s and hearing Doña Julia’s voice stretching loudly across the fields adjacent to her house and into the neighboring homes. Her curiosity piqued, she went outside and walked toward Doña Julia’s house. Doña Juanita chuckled with glee as ...

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Conclusions: Empowerment and Struggle in the New Millennium

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pp. 189-202

This book has examined Sandinista state formation and its aftermath in the neoliberal period through the experience of the campesino community of El Tule. I have done so by heeding Aretxaga’s (2003, 399) call to explore the state’s subjective dynamic by examining “the fantasies” that tie individuals to the state and how the state “has, and enacts, its own fantasies” ...


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pp. 203-210


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pp. 211-221


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pp. 223-226

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About the Author

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pp. 227

Rosario Montoya is an anthropologist and historian who has worked in Nicaragua since 1989. She has published on gender relations and sexuality; gender, political subjectivity, and revolution; popular religion and revolution; state formation in Nicaragua, and the left turn in Nicaragua. Her work has appeared in such academic journals ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599370
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816502417

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2012